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CMS Urges Healthcare Settings to Prepare for Possibility of Coronavirus

As concerns arise with the emerging 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) threat, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is encouraging all healthcare settings to carefully review information provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

Because coronavirus infections can rapidly appear and spread, CMS states in a Feb. 6 memorandum to state survey agencies, settings must take steps to prepare, including reviewing their infection control policies and practices to prevent the spread of infection.

The CMS memo emphasizes advance preparation by facilities through self-assessment and review of infection control practices and strongly encourages facilities to note the following:

  • CDC issued a Health Update Feb. 1, with a link to updated infection prevention and control guidance specific to 2019-nCoV.
  • CMS recognized the need to consider “emerging infectious diseases” in a provider’s emergency preparedness plans.
  • To ensure health and safety, CMS expects healthcare staff and surveyors (contractors, federal, state, and local) to comply with basic infection control practices.
  • Healthcare settings should review appropriate personal protective equipment use and availability, such as gloves, gowns, respirators, and eye protection.

To assist you in self-assessment and review of you own practices, CMS provides links to several resources, including online courses developed in conjunction with CDC focusing on universal infection control practices.

You should also review infection control practices in relation to Novel Coronavirus and be prepared to address questions from MDH about the steps you took should it arise during survey.

The Minnesota Department of Health also maintains a webpage with local information about the virus.

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